Orlysquare Roofpark: The human need for green space

Orlysquare Roofpark in Amsterdam is testament to the human need for green space.

With the once-mono-functional landscape in danger of becoming a barren wasteland, the area (and the location of Amsterdam’s Sloterdijk Trainstation), has been transformed into a multi functional green oasis providing recreation, amenity, and a sense of wellbeing. But the project’s trump card is how it was achieved.

The site sits aloft mainline tracks for the incoming trains to the station, essentially making it a rooftop project. So the challenge was how to take the almost-abandoned sprawl of concrete that marked its past function as a bus station and reimagine it to include water management solutions for a multi functional outcome.

The design involved excavating the area to provide gardens, walkways, space for over 1000 bicycle bays, eating establishments and cycle ways. For the project to be a success, Permavoid geocellular units and geotextile were used. Favoured for its flexibility and ability to store and reuse water, the system was perfect for passive irrigation for the new low level planting and mid sized established trees. To help with flooding and pooling, the units capture rainwater run-off at source, then store and reuse it throughout the park. And with the addition of capilliary fibre cones within the geocellular units, the water is stored until the plants on the site require it – which results in optimum plant growth and enables nature to call the city via evapotranspiration.

The Orlysquare is now a major hub, where people from the city, harbour, business district and tourism come together to meet, enjoy events and work.

Now a sustainable and green public space, the area, with its injection of vitality, is encouraging people – both local and tourist – to visit and linger; utilising short-stay hotel facilities, cafés and the park itself simply just to sit and relax. The strategic planting offers aesthetics and beauty whilst attracting new and much needed biodiversity, and hotels in the area have increased rooms to accommodate more visitors.